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Common Drugs Contribute to Dementia, Heart Conditions

Common Drugs Contribute to Dementia, Heart Conditions
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ANH is taking action to add a warning to commonly used drugs that can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Action Alert!

Last week, ANH-USA submitted a Citizen’s Petition to the FDA requesting a black box warning on proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications warning of an increased risk for developing dementia. Last year, we submitted a separate petition asking for warning on these acid blocker medications for an increased risk of pneumonia, giving an indication of how dangerous these medications are. Experience has demonstrated that we cannot rely on the FDA to do the right thing, so join us in urging the agency to add this new warning.

PPIs are among the most widely used medications in the U.S., but many users are unaware that the evidence supporting the link between PPIs and dementia is strong. Studies have linked PPI use directly with dementia. A large study published in JAMA Neurology found that regular use of PPIs increased the risk for dementia by as much as 52% compared with nonusers.

In addition to these studies demonstrating a direct link, other side effects of PPI use are also connected with dementia and Alzheimer’s. For example, PPI use is associated with higher risk of chronic kidney disease. It has been accepted that kidney function is connected with brain activity, and studies have linked kidney disease with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

PPI use also increases risk of heart disease and heart attack. Heart failure has been associated with a more than 80% increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have linked heart problems with cognitive impairment.

Researchers have speculated that the link between PPIs and dementia is potentially caused by a PPI-induced increase of the protein amyloid-beta. Alzheimer’s patients have abnormal levels of this protein which clump together to form plaques that collect between neurons and disrupt cell function. Another link could be a vitamin B12 deficiency, since PPIs disrupt the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin.

The link between PPIs, dementia and Alzheimer’s is of course just one more in a long list of nasty side effects of these drugs that we’ve discussed previously.

Public health experts say between 60 and 70% of people who take these drugs don’t need them. Acid blockers like PPIs do not address the root cause of stomach trouble, which is often too little stomach acid, not too much. This means that in many cases, taking acid blockers simply makes your stomach problems even worse.

The FDA already has issued a number of warnings regarding PPIs, including the increased risk of bone fracturehypomagnesemia (low serum magnesium levels), and Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea. It’s time to add dementia to this list.

Action Alert! Write to the FDA, with a copy to Congress, telling the agency to add a warning that PPIs increase risk of dementia. Please send your message immediately.

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